An old gasoline-smelling bus rumbled up to the stop, and Valya finally got out into the fresh air. It had recently rained heavily, and the roadside was buried in mud. The woman’s face was as gloomy as the surrounding landscape. His native village was visible nearby. Valentina took a closer look. Everything remained the same. Lights were already on in the windows, dogs were barking loudly. Exactly the same as six years ago. But there were no more farm equipment on the hill.
What happened to the household, Valentina did not know for sure. Apparently, the heirs of Belyakov did not want to deal with the farm and just sold everything. “What will happen now? How to live on?”, the woman thought sadly and slowly wandered home.
Once on the main street, Valya stopped. She felt uneasy from fear, tried to walk very quietly. It seemed that she was being watched from every yard and curses were whispered after her. After all, it was because of her that almost half of the village was left without work then. If only I could walk home and hide from the hateful stares. But what about her house now? What is his condition, and is there any at all? Her heart leapt from the unknown, and the woman quickened her pace.
During the years spent in the colony, Valentina has completely changed. Different appearance, different thoughts, different character. She used to be a beauty, cheerful, carefree and flirtatious. Thick red hair and blue eyes haunted businessman Anatoly Belyakov for a long time. He didn’t invite her to get married, but simply offered to move. A girl who lived alone in an old house thought she was lucky. Therefore, I gladly agreed.
And the reality turned out to be tough. Half a village worked for Tolik, and he fancied himself a master. He thought that everything was allowed to him. Such people are called tyrants. However, Valya didn’t figure it out right away. At first, the naive beauty was proud of the attention of a wealthy man. Of all the village girls, Tolik chose her!
But soon the trap was closed. The man controlled every step. Valya couldn’t wear makeup, and she couldn’t dress smartly either. He forbade me to let my friends in. And you won’t go anywhere yourself, otherwise there will be a scandal.
That’s how Valentina lived. I washed, cleaned, cooked. Then I sat and waited for Tolik, not knowing in what mood he would return. I dreamed of going to work. But where there. Will Anatoly allow it? The overbearing man was going crazy with jealousy. He arranged interrogations every evening. The girl made excuses with tears. “What other lovers? I don’t leave the house all day, I don’t see anyone but you.” But it’s useless. The drunken tyrant became even more enraged, and it came to physical assault.
Unable to stand the humiliation and beatings, Valya decided to leave. She returned to her dilapidated house, fell on the bed and began to sob bitterly. In the morning I fell asleep for a while. The next day I resolutely started cleaning. The work was fun. Getting rid of the dust in the rooms, the girl also cleansed her soul. I hoped that everything would be forgotten, and life would go on as usual. But the worst was just beginning!
Valya had almost washed the floor when her ex-lover burst into the kitchen. Sharply kicked the bucket, and rushed to the terrified girl. Her mind went blank with fear. The last thing I remember is Anatoly’s face twisted with anger. And then darkness and fog…
When Valentina came to, Tolik was lying on the floor. Policemen were bustling around. They tried to ask about something, showed the woman a bag with a large kitchen knife. Furniture was overturned, curtains were torn off, dishes were broken. The girl was scared silent and tried to realize what was happening.
Loud voices of neighbors could be heard from the yard:
– What a bitch! It was necessary to bring a man like that! I contacted her to my misfortune! The scoundrel was twirling her tail! You have a man, so live in peace! Ruined our breadwinner! Where are we going to work? Oh, what will happen now? What will happen?
Valentina has served her term until the end. Six whole years in the colony! Time dragged on slowly, the strict daily routine was depressing. She left Tolik as if she were out of prison. I dreamed of escaping to freedom. And suddenly this happened! Well, at least I got along with everyone. Other zechki Valya did not offend. On the contrary, they listened, sympathized, supported.
Cruel blows of fate for a woman do not pass without a trace. Valentina’s gaze went out, her beautiful face was haggard and stale, her head was covered with gray. What is she like now from the outside? Gloomy, severe, unkempt. It’s immediately obvious – the former zechka. How could she have even jokingly thought of such a thing in her youth? It is not for nothing that they say that they will not renounce from the bag and from prison. Alas! Now she is a zechka, and she will have to live with it.
Valya covered her face with a handkerchief and continued her way down the street. There was not long to go. And then the house appeared. It seems to be intact! He stands on the edge of the village, dark and lonely. And the trees are sprawling nearby! It was as if she had returned to her youth. The familiar chill from the ravine, the murmur of the stream and the croaking of frogs. And there is a forest beyond the ravine, where I once collected mushrooms and listened to the chirping of birds.
Opening the creaking gate, Valya stopped for a moment. The house is standing as before. But what was waiting for her inside? Darkness, a lot of dust and the smell of mold. That’s how much effort it takes to put everything in order.
Strangely, there was no damp on Valya. I pressed the switch – just like that, just in case. And suddenly the light came on! She looked around in surprise. The house was in perfect order, and flowers were green on the window. She ran up and looked into the pots. The ground was still wet–someone had recently come. There are no other people’s things in the house, so it was just watched, kept cozy and clean.
“And who is this kind soul?” Valya wondered curiously, when suddenly a voice was heard.
– Valka, hello! Finally. I see the light has come on, and I’m running to you.
Valya turned to the entrance hall. A smiling neighbor Claudia was standing in the aisle, and in her hands was a large stuffed bag.
– Oh, Valka, Valka, how you’ve changed. Look, I brought you some goodies,” and then Claudia began to lay out the groceries on the table. What was not there! And bread, and sausage, and milk, and jam.
– Thank you very much, Aunt Klava. Tell me, did you look after the house? Valya asked with a smile.
– Me, me. Is it possible otherwise? You can’t leave housing without care.
– What would I do without you, Aunt Klava? – Valentina said and shed tears.
– Okay, it’s time for me, Valya. And then our men are angry at you. Mine’s about to come home from work. If he finds out that I’m here, there will be scandals.
Valentina was very encouraged by the neighbor’s support. Now she’s not alone! After drinking delicious homemade milk, the woman was going to lie down. But suddenly there was a knock on the door.
A shy boy of about thirteen stood on the threshold. He timidly handed Valentina a bundle and muttered softly.
– Here, take it. Mom asked me to tell you.
– Tell her thank you so much! Valya answered cheerfully and the timid boy immediately rushed away.
From the bundle came the aroma of smoked bacon – such that you just can’t resist. But Valya had no idea who the delicious gift was from. Over the years, the kids have grown up, so it’s impossible to recognize them.
Irka entered without knocking. She had never knocked before. The best friend after all! So I had the right.
– Valka, Valka, I missed you so much!
Valentina burst into tears from happiness.
“I thought you didn’t even want to know me?”
– Well, how is it, I don’t want to know? What about our women’s solidarity? Let them say whatever they want. But it was self-defense. Men do not understand, so they are angry. You go to bed early today. I’ll drop by tomorrow and have a chat.
Covering herself with a warm blanket, Valentina yawned with pleasure. But then there was a loud knock on the glass, and the dream disappeared like a hand. The woman ran to the window and saw the massive silhouette of Grigory. This middle-aged man enjoyed authority in the village and was considered an unofficial headman.
– Hey, Valka, don’t come out. So let’s talk through the window. You know, we’ve been sitting here with the men, thinking. It’s not your fault. She defended herself. It’s hard for us, of course, in the village without work. Let the women think what they want. But Tolik has ruined himself. Okay, it’s not bad to talk about the dead… you know. And we’ve collected a little money here, enough for the first time. Yes, you take it, take it Valka, don’t be shy.
Seeing that the woman was uncomfortable, Grigory decisively threw the money out the window and quietly disappeared into the darkness. Valya smiled and thought, “How kind they all are. Now I will definitely not be lost!”.